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When a child walks onto the old yellow school bus that is Charlottesville’s Free Book Bus, they’re greeted not by rows of seats, but by shelves of hundreds of colorful books featuring diverse characters of many languages, races and backgrounds. 

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If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant or peeked in the back, then you’ve probably noticed that no space goes to waste. Shelving spans above and below countertops, and walk-ins are lined with tiered units. If you have a pantry, then take note of this design: Place the items you use most at eye level, the heaviest items beneath and the specialty items above. If you don’t have a pantry, add open shelving to a blank wall — for everyday items like plates and cups — or place a cart beside a small countertop. And while you’re at it, add extra shelving inside your cabinets to maximize the number of pieces you can fit inside.

So many renter kitchens and bathrooms are cursed with the cheap, ugly, and not all that functional iron shelves in the pantry or closet. TikTok creator @kelseyvenkov transformed her pantry by placing wood on top of the wire.

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Stock your play pantry with this set, containing a whopping 115 pieces. The colorful smorgasbord features textured pieces, ranging from croissants to waffles to milk cartons, so kids can literally get a feel for different foods. $29.99 at Amazon

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TikTok user @forrevolution tried to keep her pantry organized with baskets, but the result was food that was forgotten about and a cluttered pantry that became a catch-all for other household items. She transformed the space with acrylic organizers that made it easy to take stock—and the before and after is a dramatic improvement.

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The kitchen can be one of the easiest places to organize. Start by going through the food in your pantry. Box up unwanted items that haven’t been opened and aren’t expired, and take them to your local food shelf. Next, go through your tableware, pots and pans and decorative kitchen accessories. Donate anything you aren’t using regularly or don’t love. Giving makes the letting go a lot easier.

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